Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: A major AAC battle takes place

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 13 Cincinnati at No. 12 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.

The biggest game of the season in the American will be taking place at the Yum! Center tonight. Cincinnati has been the best team in the conference all year long, jumping out to a 19-2 record and an 8-0 start in league play. But Louisville has long been considered the favorite to win the league in their only season as a member, and it looks like they have finally turned a corner this season.

Cincinnati is big and physical, surviving on their defense and rebounding to win games. The good news for Mick Cronin? Justin Jackson, the anchor for this group defensively, will play after rolling his ankle on Sunday. Louisville is getting healthy as well, as Chris Jones will be back in the lineup, although his presence may not be quite as beneficial as Jackson’s is to Cincinnati.

Whatever the case, this is not only for first place in the conference, but for a chance to mark down the best win of the season on either side. Is Cincy for real? Has Louisville really turned things around? We’ll see tonight.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Chattanooga at Davidson, 7:00 p.m.

Davidson has been the power in the SoCon over the course of the last few years, but Chattanooga looks dangerous this season. Will Wade’s team has reeled off 10 straight wins, including an 8-0 start to league play. Win at Davidson, and the Mocs will have firm control of the SoCon race.

MUST-WIN OF THE NIGHT: Providence at Marquette, 7:00 p.m.

The Friars didn’t do enough in non-conference play to truly solidify their standing as an NCAA tournament team. They also haven’t done enough on the road to be considered more than a home-cooking expert at this point in the season. Marquette? Well, they just can’t afford to lose too many more games before their name cache stops getting them the benefit of the doubt.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) They may not have Chris Walker yet, but No. 3 Florida plays at Mississippi State at 7:00 p.m.

2) Purdue will pay a visit to streaking No. 10 Michigan, who recently took over firm control of the Big Ten race by winning at Michigan State.

3) Houston heads to UConn where the Huskies will look to get revenge for the loss they suffered on New Year’s Eve.

4) It’s UCLA’s turn to stake a claim to being the second-best team in the Pac-12, but Oregon, for all their troubles this season, is one of the most talented teams in the league. Expect a lot of scoring.

5) A pair of key smaller conference league games: Louisiana Tech will play at UTEP with first place on the line, and Bryant visits Robert Morris, who is undefeated but without four rotation players.

Postponed games:

  • Mercer at East Tennessee State
  • Kennesaw State at USC-Upstate
  • South Alabama at Georgia State
  • Samford at Furman

VIDEO: UConn’s Kwintin Williams would win the NBA dunk contest

Screengrab via Instagram
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Think that’s too strong?

Look at this dunk:

Light

A post shared by Kwintin Williams (@jumpmanebig) on

He also did this over the summer:

Williams is a 6-foot-7, 215 pound JuCo transfer that should provide UConn with some minutes in the frontcourt this season.

LSU officially announces addition of Kavell Bigby-Williams

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LSU has announced the addition of Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior that was the National Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bigby-Williams, who is a native of London, averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 boards last season as the Ducks reached the Final Four, but he played the majority of the season while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was at Gillette College in Wyoming.

The local County Attorney declined to charge Bigby-Williams with a crime, and Gillette College police consider the case closed.

“The university conducted a responsible and comprehensive review before approving the transfer,” a release posted on LSU’s Athletics site read, “including close coordination with Title IX officials, multiple discussions with Gillette and Oregon officials and a thorough examination of available public records.”

LSU head coach Will Wade was quoted in that release as well: “This is an issue we all take seriously and we made absolutely sure we did our due diligence before considering moving forward. Kavell understands that and has made clear to me that he’s going to repay our confidence by representing LSU with his very best on and off the court.”

Report: Four-star Mamaou Doucoure has reclassified, enrolled at Rutgers

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Rutgers has made a potentially significant addition to their 2017 recruiting class, as four-star big man Mamadou Doucoure appears to have reclassified.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Doucoure has already enrolled in classes at Rutgers, citing a search of the university’s online database. The 6-foot-9 Doucoure was initially a member of the Class of 2017 before reclassifying to 2018, although there have been rumors that he has been trying to enroll this year.

It’s not yet clear if Doucoure will be eligible to play this season — he has not even been added to Rutgers’ roster online — but if he’s eligible, he should be able to provide rotation minutes for the Scarlet Knights.

Even if he’s not cleared to play this season, his addition matters. He’ll be able to workout with and develop in a Big Ten locker room before getting cleared to play alongside a massive 2018 recruiting class that already includes four-stars Mac McClung and Montez Mathis along with three-star prospect Ron Harper Jr.

Options drying up for top ten prospect Mitchell Robinson

McDonald's All-American Game
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It’s looking less and less likely that we’ll see Mitchell Robinson on a college campus this season.

Robinson, if you’ve forgotten, committed to and signed with Western Kentucky, enrolling at the school and practicing with the team over the summer. But he left Bowling Green after two weeks and has received a release to transfer out of the program.

And that’s where the difficultly here lies.

He’s a transfer, which means that, as a top ten prospect and a likely one-and-done player, he will be redshirting the only year that he is on campus unless the NCAA would provide him with a waiver, which is unlikely. After Robinson left WKU, three schools have emerged as potential landing spots: LSU, Kansas and New Orleans. LSU ended their recruitment two weeks ago. Over the weekend, Kansas head coach essentially confirmed that Robinson will not be a Jayhawks.

“I would think that we probably won’t sign anybody,” Self told the Kansas City Star.

That leaves New Orleans, his hometown school, or overseas, which is a rumor that has followed Robinson since the spring. The other option? Sitting out and training for a year, which FanRag Sports reported on Sunday is a possibility.

However you slice it, Robinson’s one-and-done year has turned into a mess. He’s still likely to end up as a first round pick — seven-footers that can do the things he does defensively don’t grow on trees — but I can’t imagine that teams are going to be clamoring to use a lottery pick on a player that just spent a year sitting out.

VIDEO: Texas freshman Jericho Sims catches nasty alley-oop

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Texas is in Australia for their team’s summer trip, and Jericho Sims gave Longhorn fans a glimpse of why they may not miss Jarrett Allen’s athleticism all that much this season.